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Foundation option good for recreation

Action taken by members of Steubenville City Council on May 12 should go a long way to helping fund improvements at parks and recreation facilities.

Resolutions passed during that meeting will allow Lori Fetherolf, the city’s parks and recreation director, and City Manager James Mavromatis to enter into fund agreements with the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. The move will allow the department to accept directed donations for specific facilities or projects and to pursue private grants for fundraising.

Residents who want to make a donation to a park or project they are especially interested in will now have the ability to do so, with the knowledge that their money will be spent exactly how they intended it to be.

In addition to receiving direct donations, the department will be able to do fundraising for specific projects. That option was not available before the connection with the foundation was established.

Fetherolf said her first order of business will be to seek grant opportunities to fund local projects. First up on the list will be attempts to get money to finish improvements at Beatty Park, work that has been spearheaded by the Friends of Beatty Park, a grassroots organization that is dedicated to repairing and restoring the park.

Needs at the Beatty, which sits along Lincoln Avenue in the city’s South End, are great. They include a hill slip, which could cost as much as $100,000 to repair, and repairs to a 134-year-old sandstone bridge, which could cost as much as $300,000.

It’s critical work — without having the access provided by the historic bridge, which was deemed unsafe and shut down in July, the city will be unable to make repairs to a shelter which was damaged by fire about 14 months ago.

That work is in addition to planned trail repairs and the installation of signage, but is needed to allow for the reinvention, as members of the friends group have described it, of the park, which has been a site for recreation and relaxation since 1874.

Being able to help organizations set up fundraising mechanisms is an important facet of the work of the Wheeling-based foundation, which has served our region since 1972.

Fetherolf said she has been looking at a way to establish a parks and recreation foundation since she was first hired three years ago.

With recreation being among the first departments to be affected in any city when money becomes tight, the system offers additional funding opportunities. Fetherolf deserves thanks for pushing for the process, and members of City Council should be commended for making it happen.

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